Lendrum now ahead of Varley for Barclays post

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CHRIS LENDRUM, head of corporate banking at Barclays Bank, has emerged as the internal front-runner for the post of chief executive of the high street clearer.

He has moved ahead of John Varley, the head of retail banking, who had been widely regarded as the internal favourite. This is despite the fact that Mr Lendrum, say insiders, told the city head hunter Spencer Stuart that he was reluctant to take on the post because of the impact on his personal life.

Sir Peter Middleton, the Barclays chairman, is understood to have decided, after consultation with key boardmembers, that Mr Varley - who has held his current position for barely a year - needs more time before he is ready to be considered for the top job. Mr Lendrum, who has worked in most of the key parts of the bank at senior level, is believed to have the necessary depth of experience.

The appointment on Friday of David Allvey, the chief of corporate operations at Allied Zurich, the insurance group, has once again thrown the spotlight on the fact that Barclays is still without a chief executive more than seven months after Martin Taylor quit.

Sir Peter said on Friday that Barclays was still looking for an external candidate. However he made it clear that an internal candidate would not necessarily be ruled out. "Any external candidate would have to be measured against the internal candidates we already have."

City sources said yesterday that according to Spencer Stuart, a number of the externalcandidates on the shortlist have been approached but have declined. Although Barclays insist the search is still going well, the head hunters admit that they are finding it hard going.

Sir Peter last week ruled out re-appointing Michael O'Neill, who resigned last April on his first day in the job because of heart trouble. Mr O'Neill indicated recently he might be willing to re-apply.